Lightning Fires Linked to Problem Gas Tubing

HARTFORD, Conn., June 4 PRNewswire-USNewswire — A Class Action Lawsuit against four manufacturers of a relatively new type of fuel gas tubing has identified the installation of a lightning protection system as a remedy for the fire risk associated with CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing) gas piping systems. CSST is a type of flexible piping that has been widely used in homes and commercial applications in recent years. Unlike traditional, heavy-walled gas pipes, CSST is extremely thin and therefore susceptible to damage from lightning. Lightning traveling on the CSST can burn holes in the tubing and allow gas leakage and fire. In worse case scenarios, such leaks have led to catastrophic gas explosions. The CSST has been found to be susceptible to damage from direct and even nearby lightning strikes.

CSST has been widely used in recent years because it is easy to install. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) however, no tests on the effects of lightning on CSST were conducted prior to its approval for use. One CSST manufacturer has acknowledged that the installation of a lightning protection system addresses the lightning hazard associated with CSST, yet homes with CSST are rarely equipped with lightning protection systems. Lightning strikes the United States more than 25 million times each year. A single bolt of lightning can carry over 100 million volts of electricity, making the hazard to homes outfitted with CSST a serious concern.

“Lightning does not have to strike a building directly in order for the CSST to be affected,” explains Guy Maxwell, president of the Lightning Safety Alliance. “The reports of CSST related fires that I have seen have involved strikes that were near the structure.”

In March 2007, the four defendants in the Class Action suit filed in the Circuit Court of Clark County Arkansas reached a Settlement. Under the guidelines of the Settlement, owners of structures in the U.S., in which CSST was installed prior to September 2006, can obtain vouchers to defray the cost of mitigating the CSST hazard. Remedies identified by the settling parties include installing a lightning protection system and/or making bonding and grounding connections to certain systems in a structure.

“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of publicity given to this situation which is estimated to affect a million or more homes,” explained Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute in Maryville, MO. “Property owners have just a few short months to take advantage of these vouchers. Whether property owners take advantage of the Settlement vouchers or not these folks have a serious fire risk in their homes that needs to be addressed.”

The deadline to enter a claim under the CSST Settlement is September 5, 2007. For more information call 1-800-420-2916 or visit the website at http://www.csstsettlement.com.

Contact: Kim Loehr
804-314-8955 or kiml@lightning.org http://www.lightningsafetyalliance.com SOURCE Lightning Safety Alliance